In one year, Sitara has become one strong little girl. This time last year Fowzieh first noticed something wasn’t quite right with her daughter. Sitara, then 4, wasn’t feeling well and lost her appetite. She became dizzy and would slip every now and then climbing the stairs and one day, actually fell down six of them. A trip to the ER following that scary fall found nothing wrong, but a week later, she began vomiting. She couldn’t even keep a small sip of water down. She began suffering from headaches and walking strangely – sideways. The usual active girl would only want to sleep, and when she did, could only do so on one side because it hurt her head when she lay on the other. When she began vomiting blood, they returned to the ER and there, a CT scan made a startling discovery – Sitara had a tumour on the right side of her brain. Dr. Gallagher performed a seven hour surgery to remove the tumour later that week. When she awoke from surgery, crying and kicking (and then asking for croissants!) her mom says it was like she was reborn. Fowzieh and Ahmed prayed the tumour wasn’t cancerous, but their worst fears were realized when test results came back: Medulloblastoma – cancer. Suddenly their world was turned upside down as they learned the long road ahead for Sitara: 30 days of radiation and seven months of chemotherapy. But before they could even begin, they hit a bump in the road. Sitara began showing signs of an infection, which turned out to be meningitis. Thankfully, after antibiotics, she was back on track again.
That April, Sitara began radiation – five days a week at a time. It became her parents’ full time job. Because she had to lie in a certain position and very still, Sitara had to be sedated each time, making the process that much longer. Despite this tiring daily routine, Sitara was a champ and even became so used to it that she started instructing her radiation techs what to do! That summer, she began seven cycles of chemo, the worst of which involved three days of chemo during a four day stay. Thankfully because of a donor-funded program called Hospital at Home, Sitara could receive some of her hydration treatments at home rather than the hospital.
Sitara lost her hair, her appetite, but not her strength and three weeks ago marked her last chemo treatment! Her family is grateful for the exceptional care she received, including from Child Life therapists Cindy and Chantal and music therapist Mark who made her stays more fun.
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